The following is a continuation of the timeline between 1994 – 1999 from part 7.
1994 – 1999
Belize Foreign Minister Dean Barrow responds to the letter on 22nd March 1994, strongly asserting that Belize stand by its rights to a 12 mile territorial sea based on the equidistance principle. “Protests have and are hereby lodged against any and all Guatemalan claims and or acts past present and future, in violation of international law…”
At the UN 49th General Assembly on 24th october 1994, Belize’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Edward Laing, rebuts statement by Guatemala’s representative who reiterates Guatemalan non recognition of Belize land border and territorial sea. he expresses dissatisfaction that Guatemala should question the universal recognition of the inviolability of Belize borders (reflected in the numerous Resolutions of the United States General Assembly)
In October and December 1995 Belize discusses at the political level with Guatemala the growing problem of incursions and illegal Guatemalan settlements in Belize
Map with Illegal Guatemalan Settlements. Credit: amandala.com.bz
Alvaro Arzu is inaugurated as President of Guatemala
Belize and Guatemala hold a series of technical level meetings in Miami in February, September 1997 and March 1998. Meetings are exploratory and address problems of encroachments into Belize
The parties discuss the development of a joint mechanism for removal of illegal settlements. The situation of the Guatemalan settlement at Santa Rosa, discovered by the BDF after taking over from British Forces in 1994, is topical. A joint assessment is agreed
In 1997, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court rules that the 1859 Convention is null and void as it was not properly ratified by the Congress after signature
Guatemalans are forbidden to refer to the existence of a border with Belize
At a technical level meeting in Belmopan in November 1997, Guatemala indicates that any referral of the dispute to arbitration would not seek land session as compensation
The People’s United Party wins the General Elections on 27th August 1998. Said Musa becomes Prime Minister
Motivated by Presidential election concerns Guatemala’s Foreign Minister, Eduardo Stein, writes Prime Minister Musa on 18th October 1999 claiming sovereign rights of Guatemala from the Sibun River to the Sarstoon River and all Cayes except for Saint Georges Caye
This reflects Guatemala’s new approach based on customary international law, that Guatemala has succeeded to this area from Spain, the area from the Rio Hondo to the Sibun including St. George’s Caye, being what Spain had allowed usufruct rights to the British, consolidated by the British in 1798. Stein proposes that the dispute be referred either to arbitration or the International Court of Justice.
Prime Minister Musa replies on 14th December 1999 rejecting Stein’s version of the history of the issue, describing the Guatemalan proposal for arbitration pr referral to the International Court of Justice was premature before frank and open discussion could be held